Lee Johnson delivers this honest verdict on where Sunderland fell short in Charlton Athletic defeat
Lee Johnson admitted his side came up short in the final third as they fell to their first home defeat of the season.
Jayden Stockley' s second-half goal proved the difference between the two teams, with Johnson saying the Charlton striker should have seen red for a headbutt on Tom Flanagan in the first half.
The referee came in for firm criticism for Johnson, but the Sunderland head coach also conceded his side had not done enough to win the game.
"I didn't feel we deserved to lose the game, necessarily," he said.
"Did we deserve to win it? Maybe not. If we'd come in 0-0, 1-1, I think that would have been a fair result.
“I thought for the first 30 minutes, we didn’t really play the game plan. I felt like the players were reverting to type a bit.
Then we had that little break in play and I was able to get the lads across and have that conversation.
Then I thought in the last 15 minutes of the first half, we were pretty good in terms of sliding the ball behind their back three. "Aiden started getting one on one and causing more problems on the right than he was on the left, and we looked good.
"We came in and the message was more of that. To be fair, we did show that, but they still had threats. Stockley shouldn’t have been on the pitch, but when he is on the pitch, he’ll have a wrestle and he’ll keep the ball in an area
".When they got the goal, it was always going to be difficult and they showed what they do show, which is a good level of game management when they’re in the lead for that last ten or 15 minutes.
“The whole point of having a game plan is so that everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet," he added.
"There were four or five playing to the game plan, but four or five effectively playing their own game.
"Obviously, it’s my job to recognise that and present it back. It causes you a problem.
"The worst thing in the world is when somebody’s looking over the midfield to try to slide it in behind the back four or play longer more direct balls, and then midfielders are coming short.
"Because when you then go longer, your midfielders are 30 yards from the ball.
"As an ex-midfielder myself, I know more than anyone that that’s what happens. You’re too far away from the second ball then."
Despite his frustration, Johnson insisted there was no need for panic.
“There’s so many games in the season, you’ve got to dust yourself off really quickly," he said.
"There was still some really good play today, just without that final bit of genius or bit of quality that we have shown.
"I can remember about six or seven instances where we got into great areas of the pitch, but just failed with the cutback or couldn’t pick somebody out, or it was a great bit of defending or a couple of good saves. It was what it was. It wasn’t our day.
"I’m disappointed, but it’s certainly no crisis because there was enough in the performance to say that we can produce that and more again.”